Tag: UT Austin

Texas Revue: Diversity Meets Worlds of Talent

By Isabella Bejar, Marina Chairez and JD Harris

Beat boxing, dancing, rapping, singing, and many more unique talents drew a full crowd at Hogg Memorial Auditorium on April 23, 2016. Nearly 1,ooo people attended the University’s largest talent show, Texas Revue.

The University of Texas at Austin began hosting their annual student-run talent shows in the 1960’s and then re-established in 1995. The Texas Revue is composed of individuals and various student organizations. Different talents continue to bring the UT community together for one night, while showcasing a variety of talented acts.

Over 55 acts auditioned, but only around 10-12 acts can be featured each year. Performers compete in a Texas tradition to win the “Best Overall” award and $1,500, while the titles of “Crowd Favorite” and “Technical Excellence” are also up for grabs.

Many may have different goals, but it is truly shown that all contestants give their heart out on the stage and hope for the best. Ray Villarreal is the first solo rapper to perform at the Texas Revue.

“I would like to get known here at UT because that would be really big for me and great exposure. I would feel on top of the world. Either way it’s been a fun ride. I’m having the time of my life and being able to do these things that not a lot of other people can say that they’ve done is great and it’s all because of music,” said Ray Villarreal.

With only five minutes on stage to showcase their talents to a panel of judges, the real work goes on months and maybe even years in advance. Each individual puts in hours of practice and sacrifice, but when doing something you’re passionate about, all that practice doesn’t feel so much like work.

“Entertaining a crowd is my favorite part of performing because I think I’m a good artist, but an even better performer. I think that’s what makes you stand out – engaging with people and getting them to sing along or even jump in the crowd and crowd surf. I think it’s fun,” Villarreal said.

The audience is really able to reflect on the importance of interpersonal cultural diversity, while being exposed to the many cultural performances. From Bollywood to mixes of hip-hop and traditional Bhangra, each performance is judged on things like creativity, technical achievements and skill.

“I was very engaged by the cultural dance and music groups who not only presented strong, well-rehearsed pieces, but also aimed to share cultural dance and music forms with a broad UT audience,” said Rebecca Rossen, judge and professional dancer, choreographer, and assistant professor in UT’s Department of Theatre and Dance.

“I was specifically looking for strong collaboration in group pieces, clarity and excellence in concept and execution, skill, uniqueness, and stage presence,” Rossen said.

That stage presence translated into social media using “#TexasRevue” which managed to reach over 60,000 people through personal tweets, media coverage and Instagram. Posts of friends and fellow students rooting on such a variety of artistic styles goes to show the diversity in the UT community.

Riju Humagain, logistics officer for Texas Revue, said “I think Texas Revue is unique because it honestly showcases such a diverse set of talents that is present in this University.”

All those components came together when Texas Nach Baliye, a traditional Indian dance team received the “Overall Winner” award at the end of the night.  

Take Back the Night 2016

Isabella Bejar, Julia Bernstein, Anahita Pardiwalla

Sometimes it’s easier to stay quiet. It’s easier to believe that what happened doesn’t matter. But life isn’t easy. To rip your heart open and put your hurt on display for millions to see is undeniably hard, but it is also what makes you strong.

Celebrities have come together to combat sexual assault with “It’s On Us,” a campaign to help survivors and end sexual assault. Their mission is to recognize and identify sexual assault situations while creating “an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.”

The campaign comes from the White House where Vice President Joe Biden accompanied Lady Gaga to speak about the message at The 2016 Academy Awards.

The University of Texas at Austin is taking a similar approach to combat this issue. Voices Against Violence, a branch of UT’s Counseling and Mental Health Center hosted “Take Back the Night,” an event that illuminates the movement to end sexual assault and offers a safe space for survivors to speak about their experiences.

Erin Burrows, the Prevention and Outreach Specialist for VAV, said she’s seen many diverse communities come together to talk about this issue.

“It is a beautiful portrait of what it means to be a Longhorn a part of this community,” Burrows said.

Paintings and Illustrations from Take Back the Night 2016

 

Over 40 student organizations are co-sponsoring this event including Texas Athletics, who joined the movement to end sexual assault with a video of their own stating, “Longhorns stick together.”

Students came together beneath the tower to offer support for their peers while learning about campus and city wide services offered to survivors.

Junior Lizeth Urdiales believed a big part is helping students overcome the situation.

“[We’re here] celebrating the diversity of the individuals that we really are,” she said.

Voices Against Violence Survivor's Emergency Fund

Navigating Policy & Perspectives: Campus Carry at UT Austin

Cassandra Jaramillo | Jade Magalhaes | Sandy Marin | Jan Ross Piedad

At the Oct. 5 open carry forum, members of Gun Free UT display a banner that states: "300 UT Faculty Refuse Guns In Our Classrooms."

At the Oct. 5 open carry forum, members of Gun Free UT display a banner that states: “300 UT Faculty Refuse Guns In Our Classrooms.”

To carry or not to carry?

This is the question many Texans are asking after the deadly shooting at a community college in Oregon, a state which allows concealed handguns on campuses.

After Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 11 into law this summer, Texas became one of eight states in the U.S. to allow those with concealed handgun licenses to bring guns into buildings on college campuses. The law does allow, however, some areas to be designated gun-free zones.

SB 11 states that university presidents may “establish reasonable rules, regulations or other provisions” regarding guns in common areas such as dorms, classrooms, and dining halls. Those regulations must then be passed by the school’s governing board.

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Claire Christensen, a government junior and supporter of campus carry at UT Austin, said the legislation will make her feel more comfortable in school.

“As a woman, and as a student, I feel safer if I know that other people can defend me too if they have guns,” she said. “If something was to happen out of the blue, then I could also protect myself if I have a gun on me.”

While administration at the University of Texas flagship makes its decisions, the number of faculty members already refusing to allow guns in their classrooms is steadily increasing.

When Gun-Free UT held a protest against campus carry on Oct. 1, about 163 faculty members already signed a petition refusing to allow guns into classrooms. In less than a week, support has more than doubled to 330 names on the list.

“The number is going up quickly as more faculty learn that there are options to speak out,” Joan Neuberger, a history professor and a leader in the Gun-Free UT community, said in an email.

A person must be at least 21 years old to obtain a concealed handgun license, meaning the majority of university students will not be eligible to carry.

At public events like protests and forums, as well as in published articles, professors have expressed a similar message: a small number of students granted more freedom by the law is not worth the larger impact campus carry may have on the university.

Professors who teach controversial subject matter said they are worried students will be afraid to speak out in class, while others expressed concern with discussing grades if students are permitted to bring guns into offices.

Jason Baldridge, an associate professor of computational linguistics at UT, said that campus carry could affect potential recruitment of future faculty and students, as the legislation goes into effect next fall.

“This is an amazing university with tons of top faculty from all over the world that do great stuff. But having campus carry is going to make it harder to recruit faculty members. It’ll be harder to recruit top graduate students,” Baldridge said. “That is not for the better of the university. And it’s also not for the better of the state of Texas.”

Baldridge started teaching at UT in 2005 but took off two-and-half years to cofound the startup People Pattern, an audience insight software company. A few months after he agreed to return to the university as a part-time professor, the campus carry legislation passed in the state. Baldridge said his wife expressed concerns with him teaching in front of students who may be carrying guns.

In fact, Baldridge said he was personally looking at “other options” as UT administrators decide on specific regulations regarding campus carry legislation.

He said he isn’t alone.

“There are going to be people looking at their options elsewhere,” Baldridge said.

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